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Fear can be crippling. It can steal your sleep, give you horribly deep worry lines and make you jump at the smallest noise. The worst thing about fear is that it can stop you having a full and enjoyable life and that makes me plain old mad! So, to kick fear in the you-know-wheres I thought I’d give you a list of funny phobias so that we can stick it to fear and not let it take over our lives; bring it into the light and have a good old laugh. It’s not to make fun of people who experience these fears but to give us scardy-cats a little laugh at ourselves and at fear itself!

Here are the funniest phobias I could find… is yours here?

  • Acerophobia- Fear of sourness.
  • Alliumphobia- Fear of garlic.
  • Anthrophobia or Anthophobia- Fear of flowers.
  • Apotemnophobia- Fear of persons with amputations.
  • Arachibutyrophobia- Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
  • Aulophobia- Fear of flutes.
  • Aurophobia- Fear of gold.
  • Bolshephobia- Fear of Bolsheviks.
  • Chaetophobia- Fear of hair.
  • Consecotaleophobia- Fear of chopsticks.
  • Dextrophobia- Fear of objects at the right side of the body.
  • Dutchphobia- Fear of the Dutch.
  • Euphobia- Fear of hearing good news.
  • Geniophobia- Fear of chins.
  • Genuphobia- Fear of knees.
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words. (HA HA)
  • Kathisophobia- Fear of sitting down.
  • Leukophobia- Fear of the color white.
  • Linonophobia- Fear of string.
  • Lutraphobia- Fear of otters.
  • Metrophobia- Fear of poetry.
  • Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons.
  • Onomatophobia- Fear of hearing a certain word or of names.
  • Pogonophobia- Fear of beards.
  • Tremophobia- Fear of trembling.
  • Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.
  • For more go to http://phobialist.com/

I wonder whether there are heaps of people who suffer from these fears or only a few? Hmmmm.

What’s your phobia?

I’m scared of whales… strange but true!!!

I hate cleaning, I hate tidying, I hate scrubbing my shower but I love washing my clothes. As a mum, there’s a lot of expectation on us to be clean, neat-freaks. We’re supposed to have our house, finances, children in order and if we’re not, then we’re failing.

This is an unspoken rule, of course. It’s not as if you pop out your baby and the midwife says, “Oh, by the way, now that you’re a mum, your house must be stylish, clean and tidy each and everyday. Even when this little muppet becomes a toddler.” But there is an expectation the basic dusting, vacuuming and cleaning will be done weekly but in my house (gulp) I must admit it often gets left until it’s so gross that I can’t stand it anymore and out come the rubber gloves and tub of Gumption!

Let me propose that cleanliness is not the bee’s knees; that it is not the most important thing in life. I have wooden floors and I cannot remember the last time I mopped them but they don’t stink and they still look relatively clean when I bother to vacuum them. And some would say that cleaning too much is actually bad for our health; that anti-bacterial cleaners actually do away with the good bacteria as well as the bad, leaving us at the mercy of any bug that would walk through our doors.

In fact, would it be better for our hair and skin if we didn’t wash it as much? The natural oils would come pouring through and do their God-given job on their own, without any help from those nasty chemicals in our shampoo and skin cleansers. Have you ever gone for days without a shower? Sure, you stink but a quick swim will wash away any truly nasty odours, would it not?

I’m not saying that we should all embrace the hippy lifestyle and grow dreadlocks and eat mung beans but I just think it’s crazy how obsessed we are about how we present ourselves to others. Why do we care so much? I think that a clean toilet is a MUST and that showers are fantastic but the rest of the stuff, the surface stuff, who do we do that for? And what are we missing out on when we’re on our hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor?

To me, relationships are so important. So, if someone needs me or if my kids want to talk to me, I’d rather roll around on my dusty floor and listen to who pushed who at school, than be vacuuming while they stare at me with sad little faces. I think we should all be free to spend as much time with people and less time scurrying around making ourselves and our houses look perfect to impress those very people. Because, in the end, everyone loves to feel important, they love to be listened to, they love it when people show that they care and how can we do it when we are elbow-deep in Gumption?

And, that’s my excuse for having a messy, dusty house and I’m going to stick to it! Join me, why don’t you!

 

Early morning. Freshly (?) squeezed mango juice and strawberry juice! Oh. My. Goodness. So yum. It made the 5ish am start to the day bearable. Thank goodness for 5 star hotels!

After our delicious breaky we headed off to the airport and hopped onto our Egyptair plane. Oh dear. Firstly the flight attendants scared me. Smile people! And secondly they had a camera on the bottom of the plane giving us a great view of the dodgy tarmac. Hmmmm. Sounding like a whinging westerner here but whatever!

Up, up, up we went. Then, eventually the scary attendants served us a weird inflight meal: partially frozen muffin (which was actually quite yummy) and a cup-o-tea! It was a shortish trip to Luxor. And after we landed, the whole plane cheered! Fu-neeee. But it was all worth it. This place was incredible. Temples a-go-go! Hardly any tourists.

After a day of temple exploring we headed to our boat. Oh bliss! We had to walk through about six other luxurious floating hotels to get to ours. We found our room – just like the hotel we left in Cairo. This is the way to travel Egypt! (Cocky westerner now? Oh well.). Up to the deck we floated and sat there sipping some kind of drink overlooking the Nile! The Nile!!!!!

That night we headed back to Karak temple for an exciting (yawn) sound and (yawn) light show. Ooo sorry… flashbacks. It was freeeeeezing cold and the first ten minutes was creepy and exciting. But then it went on… and on… and on! And we both nearly fell asleep.

Next day was the flippin’ Valley of the Kings. This place rocked. The tombs were beautiful. The colours of the drawings/paintings were still brightly coloured and well preserved. We headed down into the bowels of the thing and checked out where the poor Egyptian was laid to rest. We heard tales of brains being sucked out the noses, grave robbers and the afterlife. Fascinating… and a bit gross.

Out we popped and off we went to one of my fav places: the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. This giant temple was built into the side of a mountain. It has a sad history. In 1997 62 people were shot by terrorists so it had an eerie feel about it. But it was also magnificent and awesome. For me, Egypt was full of ‘moments’. And this was one of them. Loved it!

After a full morning we headed back to the boat and set sail for Esna. Ah, this was the life. I felt for the poor adventurous tourists in Felucas (small sailing boats) with their lack of toilets or personal space. Imagine if you got the runs on board! Eeeeeeek.

The next few days were filled with Nile-side temples, jewellery purchasing (oh why didn’t I buy more? So cheap and lovely) and various interactions with various locals that made us feel a various range of emotions from annoyance to affection.

After reaching Aswan we went to a perfumery, had a dance on the ship with our tour guides and headed back to the airport to brave the scary flight attendants once again. Smile and nod. Smile and nod.

Hello Cairo with your crazy cars and your millions of people. Hello The Egyptian Museum with your amazing artefacts and floor filled with King Tut stuff. Hello Bazaar and Egyptian Restaurant. Hello taxi driver and hotel again. Hello… where had the Americans got to?

After we went to the restaurant our tour guide put us all in taxis (this was not part of the tour so no bus). We all made it safely and way too swiftly back to the hotel except the car-full of Americans. We feared the worst. It was a bad time to be an American in Egypt. Half an hour went by. One hour. Our tour guide was frothing at the mouth. He was furious.

Finally the little taxi ambled its way back to the giant hotel and everyone started to breathe again! Crazy times.

The tour was over. We said our fondest farewells to our lovely tour guide and prepared ourselves to become our own tour guides in Europe. In countries we had no idea about. In places we couldn’t speak the language. Driving on the wrong side of the road. Um. Yeah. We felt a little apprehensive. But that’s adventure, baby!

See you in Paris! Bye.

 

Image by Marie-Lan Nguyen

It’s so funny that women have a sort of elegant reputation… mostly. That we’re little princesses, sweethearts that, for the most part, enjoy a gross-free life. Well, shock horror, it’s not true. So if you are of a sensitive disposition, I would recommend that you stop reading now, because things are going to get gross!

Farts/ Toilet smells – No. Our farts do not smell of roses. Our faeces do not smell like a fresh baked cake. We are human. Even the Queen has smelly gas. It’s just a fact of life. Although, I must say that my daughter seems to be a lot less smellier than the rest of the family. Perhaps she is a ‘true’ princess!

Hairy McClary! – Without the humble razor, or less humble wax, most of us silky smooth ladies would be a pile of gross black hair. We’d be a lot more smelly too; surprise, surprise. Our legs would be soft and fluffy, great for those winter days when you feel like wearing a skirt as there would be more insulation. Bald legs are a funny invention. I understand the reasons behind shaved armpits and nether regions, but why the legs? Any hoo. If the world ran out of razors and wax today, we would be left with a whole bunch of fluffy women, cos we’re not born bald.

Luscious lips and dark sultry eyes – We do not all have eye slapping lip colour or perfect lip shape. We are paintings of our real selves. Isn’t it a shock when we see photos of celebrities without make up on! How normal do they look? It’s all because they are people, not gods. They only look incredible because of professional make up and hair peeps oh and photographers! It’s unrealistic. Yet we cake on the make up, draw on our eyes and puff out our lips to lift our confidence, to have a bit of fun or to join in with the other millions of women in the world doing the same!

Dangerous drivers – no we’re not! Some of us can park cars quite successfully. We can point the car in the right direction and get from A to B without annoying anyone or causing an accident. We can drive the speed limit and zip in and out of traffic, legally! We are not generally risk takers, that’s all. We’re mothers and daughters with more on our minds than our egos and most of us are darn good drivers!

Emotional & Irrational – Myth! Ha ha. Ok, well, maybe not this one. Most of us wear our emotions everywhere. Tears will flow, brows will frown, laughter will soar, it’s just how we’re built. We can be irrational creatures but most of the time I think we’re a lot more emotionally intelligent so our ideas may just be more sophisticated… not irrational. We read into things that others don’t. We imagine things that sometimes aren’t there but could be! And we rehearse conflicts or conversations in our heads that will probably never happen but at the end of the day, like the Scouts proclaim, it is always essential for survival, to be prepared!

Nagging – This is a pat description of a much deeper thing! Nagging only occurs when people don’t listen or when they don’t value what you have to say in the first place. It comes from frustration and feelings of insignificance. It’s not just bossy boots behaviour. There are deep reasons for such annoying behaviour. So if you listen in the first place and respect tha wo-man! then you won’t get nagging. Simple as that!

So, to summarise. Women are really smelly, hairy, colourless, thin-lipped, great drivers, emotional but highly intelligent and in deep need of respect! Would you agree?

Mmmmwaaaa! Happy Valentine’s Day Eve everyone! The pressure is building, the roses are blooming and the shops are filled with pink hearts and ADORABLE cards. Sweet.

Now for you cynical Valentine’s Day scrooges out there who can’t be bothered to do anything for your special someone on that rosy day, I have one thing to say…shame on you! You may blame your apathy on the fact that the card companies, florists and chocolatiers profit (which is true) but so what?

There really is no excuse to ignore this day of lurve. It is a great opportunity to treat your beloved one to something a little special. Some may say that Valentine’s Day should just happen everyday, but it doesn’t, does it? No! You may have lofty ideals about treating your gal or fella special regardless of the day but for the majority of us, life just gets in the way and it doesn’t happen.

Valentine’s Day suits the busy person. There is no chance of forgetting it because we are slapped in the face with ads on TV, in shops, on the radio. Wherever you walk there are the decorations and everyone is talking about it.

The couples who put a whole load of effort into the day are not seen as too ‘cool’ in our society. Love is foolish, crazy, carefree. Go for it love nerds!

The so-called ‘cool’ people who scoff at the day and plan nothing at all may actually end up feeling as if they have missed out, or their partner might! It just doesn’t make sense. You get to go out to a beautiful, candle lit dinner, you get presents, you get to gaze lovingly into the eyes of your mate… what could be better than that? It’s an excuse for fun and romance, dim lighting and chocolate. Now when you put it that way, who can resist?

If you’re a bit of a scrooge, why not surprise your loved one this year with something, anything special. You have 24 hours, so get to it! And to the rest of you, have a happy, romantic, fun Valentine’s Day why don’t ya!

James Bond, Sydney Bristow, Jack Bauer, Johnny English and Vanessa Kensington – all (fictional) spies, most glamorous, strong and sharp as a tack.

It is an intriguing world is it not? Undercover, peeking around corners, hand gripped on a holstered gun. Then there’s the gadgets, the cool cars, the even cooler heads on the fit and tanned bodies. Travel, adventure, danger… who wouldn’t want to be a spy?

The ‘Justice and Police Museum’ in Sydney is a fascinating place. Not only does it have a real courthouse, neon police sign and cells but it has some intriguing video surveillance from the 1960s spy network in our great city. ‘Normal’ looking people, men and women, can be seen walking the streets of the city, going in and out of buildings, meeting with other ‘normal’ looking people. Sounds boring but the fact that it is filmed from a hidden location makes it exciting.

There are also documents you can look through that have secret codes to crack and you can listen into real taped conversations between gang members, drug dealers, the lot. All this intrigue and secrets only intensifies my desire for spy-hood-dom.

Ah yes. I’m very good at waiting and watching and listening in to conversations if need be. I blend in quite well to my surroundings and I quite like wearing high collared coats and dark glasses. I have been known to commando roll out of cars and have great aim when shooting a gun (I once shot a tree on a property in Queensland… a tree I was actually aiming for so there you go).

My acting classes would come in very handy with the life of a spy: “No, I am not a mother of two… I’m actually Lady Washington on sabbatical from…um… Washington” (all said with the correct accent of course). The outfits would be ‘daaaarling’ and daring and fitted with the latest in blue tooth technology and  i-something gadgetry of course.

My preparation for this career would involve watching countless episodes of Alias and numerous James Bond films. I would practice stalking people in the streets, speaking code into my clenched fist. No one would notice that.

Ah yes, the life of a spy… if only. But I’m not a good liar, I am quite tall and would probably stand out in a crowd and I’m a little clumsy which would mean I’m more of a Stephanie Plum than a Sydney Bristow (damn it!). But let me dream.

What are your long lost dreams?

Image by Keith Pomakis

“The World is Your Oyster”, what a peculiar saying.

It was coined by King wordsmith himself, William Shakespeare in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’.

Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny. 
Pistol: Why, then, the world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open. 
(Act II, Scene II)

In popular culture (or in my mind) it means that there are endless possibilities out there for those with nothing else to do.

With both kidlets off to school, I can confidently say that the world is my oyster too. Though I’m hoping that it doesn’t mean that life will taste like day old fish and feel like boogers. That it won’t be dangerous or tricky to get off its shell and will be filled with the constant disappointment of not finding that elusive pearl.

No! I’m with Shakespeare on this one. The world is my oyster and with my sword I’ll crack open the darn thing and fish out the enormous pearl that is eagerly awaiting my cracking and finding! Yes! This is a great time of life with endless avenues to explore while my munchkins hammer away at their quality education.

How does one find an oyster? Firstly you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. You will need the right equipment for the job and you will need to know what you are seeking. If you’re not into eating those slimy critters, then the pearl oyster is for you (and me!). That means you need to be discerning.

You must know where to look for these as they are not as common as the booger oysters. You don’t want to settle for second best. When the world is your oyster, you want it to be filled with pearls, not smelly sea animals.

There are two ways to find a pearl. First is to go to a pearl farm where the little droplets are manufactured in a manmade kinda way. This is the well worn path that everyone who has the world as their oyster treads. Discovery rates are high, but perhaps you prefer quality over quantity?

Well you must be of the pearl diver persuasion. Adventurous, hopeful and determined, the pearl diver goes where no random pearl farmer would dare to tread. They go out to the sea, to the islands, to the dark places where the natural and priceless pearls are to be found. They are rare but oh so special. The pearl diver is the bravest of all oyster seekers. Their eyes are ever on the horizon, scanning for things of great worth, of eternal things, of the priceless treasure that is to be found in the depths of the ocean.

If you are in a season of the world being your oyster, you are not alone. Though they can slice, dice and injure, oysters also hold great treasure that you wouldn’t find if you stayed warm and dry at home.

So point your finger forward, raise your arm and be brave and the world will indeed be your (pearl) oyster!

My favourite hat is not expensive or overly gorgeous. It is not always comfortable or in the right shape. It does not always protect me well enough from the sun but my favourite hat has a story and this is it…

2003, Europe, or more precisely, Italy. The sun shone, the sea sparkled. Washed undies hung in the bathroom once more, drip drying, begging for a ride in a real washing machine. Bodies filled  3 rooms. A snoring chorus was rocking the joint. This was travelling, cheapish style.

Bleary eyes opened on a perfect Cinque Terre day. Those bodies rolled out of the semi-comfortable beds in the rooms of one of the colourful buildings in Riomaggiore. Dressed for a day of walking (or training, depending on energy levels) the bodies consumed breakfast, shared plans, and … exit!

Down the winding steps we went, down the steep road or pavement or whatever it was to the beginning of the famous walk. Money paid, off we went. I had my ridiculously small hat on my head. Twas all the rage in ’03. Or so I thought. We sauntered through the first part of the walk, scouring the sparkling waters for any sign of exotic wildlife. None.

The first town was ticked off with a visit to the chemist. Poor hubby was suffering from some nasal condition. With a dubious nod, hubby bought the suspect Italian drugs and kept walking. Sun shone, feet pointed straight ahead so off we went.

Town 2. Time for a spot of pizza. We trespassed on one of the farms that overlooked the incredibly sparkly, crystal, gorgeous ocean. We sat and looked and chewed and sipped on beers and headed for the 4th town. Beautiful Vernazza with its church by the sea. Here we sat once more, drinking in the beauty of the colourful buildings and the chiming of the church bells. A wedding. Why not?

The 5th town is where I met my hat. Intimidated by the reports of a difficult walk, we hopped on the train and headed to Monterosso al Mare. Hello hat, Hello Emma! I had been eyeing similar wicker hats that other fancy tourists had and had secretly wanted one of my own!

Our eyes met across a crowded marketplace (I think?!). Its beauty and price seemed to draw me in, like one of those weird background shrinking, face getting bigger shots you see in modern movies. Love my technical language! Super. Money was exchanged for goods (ie hat) and from that fateful day, hat and I have never been apart.

Hat lived in my backpack for the next few travelling months. She was the keeper of the clean undies. She smelled rustic and exotic. She still does. And that, my dear readers, is how I met my favourite hat. Not a rich, fancy hat. But a humble, floppy number with a great story!

Image by RanjithSiji

Pardon the repetitive Christmas theme but I am a tad excited. After all, there are houses vomiting twinkling lights everywhere I go!  Blessed old time it is.

As much as I love Christmas (and I do! I do!) there are some maniacs out there who love it a little too much. I am happy to pop the reindeer antlers and red nose on my car. I am overjoyed to listen to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album over and over again, I love Christmas shopping but that’s where I draw the line.

On the extras section of the Elf dvd, there’s some disturbing footage of Christmas nutters. There’s one lady dressed up in a snowman outfit to be in the christmas nutter documentary on christmas nutters. Dressed in her flammable outfit, she decides to light 15 candles telling the producers to put her out if she catches on fire. Nu-t-ter!

Then there’s the sweet grandpa who makes all his decorations and the buxom lady who has stuffed her front yard full of tacky looking things including a train which has the 101 dalmatians locked in a cage. Her husband keeps saying that her ‘thing’ was to give the little kiddies miniature candy canes, like he was embarrassed about such an outrageous gesture.

The funniest creatures were so into Christmas that they all wore red for the interview. The mother being the main culprit claims she spends 8 hours a day for 30 days decorating the house. Jeepers. She has tiny little towns from all over the world set up on a table supported by a massive JOY! Their house is the ultimate in obsessive christmasness. I’m not sure how involved the grown up daughter or the husband were but they wore the red… just as they were told.

I love taking the kids through those obsessive christmas streets with the massive amounts of lights, dancing Santas and music. There is something magical about it; bringing the community together in a happy kinda way. But it is always good for people to know their limits, otherwise it just seems plain sad.

It happens. You bought a dodgy present. We all understand. It was a last minute panic present. It was probably for the person that has everything and needs nothing. Perhaps it was a pair of oversized undies or a Danoz Direct miracle bra.

Well, if you’re well aware of the deadline of Christmas and have absolutely no ideas for those relatives that are impossible to buy for, here’s a few tips that will keep you in their good books with that perfect present.

  1. Second hand undies (here I go again), swimmers or gym wear are always a bad idea. If you’re going to go pre-loved focus on furniture and perhaps take the time to repaint or repair.
  2. If in doubt buy a gift card, preferably one that includes a range of stores.
  3. Think before you buy. Does the person really love Horror films or is that just you? Are you buying them liquorice so you can eat it? Try and remember conversations, their homes, their cars, shared experiences and you’ll be fine.
  4. Clothing is always risky. Make sure your taste matches theirs or you will be on the receiving end of the raised eyebrows, fake smile response. And that’s just awkward for everyone.
  5. Avoid inappropriate presents: ie Lingerie for the mother in law, a Weight Watchers voucher for anyone, an R rated film for the 14 year old nephew, Cosmo subscription for the 5 year old niece or ‘Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus’ for the couple that is always fighting.
  6. Be generous but not OTT (over the top). This is not a time to be competitive. Bigger is not always better. Some of the best presents are the cheapest but mean the most because of the thought put into it! So chill, think and enjoy.
  7. On the other hand, cheap is not always the best. $2 shops are great for stocking stuffers but not the main present. Stuff from these shops break… on Christmas day… not a good feeling.
  8. Cooking is great but be aware of allergies, diets and tastes.
  9. Novelty is great if you pick the right person. But these presents are only good for a moment’s giggle so choose carefully. Cos you know they’re just going to end up at the Op Shop.
  10. Re-gifting is a definite no-no. That is unless it’s an awesome item you already have a hundred of and you know, that you know that you KNOW who gave it to you!

Anyhoo, that’s my top ten no-no’s of Christmas. What is the worst present you’ve ever received?

 

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